I have always loved books from the earliest time I can remember. During my childhood, my allowance usually went to buying the latest Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins books, or one of the Little House on the Prairie books. I’m sure there were many more books I bought. Those particular series are just the ones I remember the most.
When I got to middle school, my reading interests started to diverge, and I became interested in science fiction and fantasy books reading such great authors as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, C.S. Lewis, Anne McCaffrey, George Orwell, and Andre Norton among many others. One particular book I read in the seventh grade was a book by Andre Norton called Dark Piper. It had a tremendous influence on me and lead me to begin writing stories, some of which would properly be termed fan fiction today.
In recent years, I have been finding some of these books at the library and rereading them and remembering what made me fall in love with them in the first place. I read several other books by Andre Norton, but had not been able to find the book I had so fallen in love with in the seventh grade. Every indication was that it was out of print. I decided to check again about a month or so back and low and behold, it had been released as an e-book in combination with one of her other works. I just finished reading the first part (Dark Piper) which I’m going to review today.
It was everything I remembered–the richness of the language, the total transportation to a new world, interesting characters, and engrossing plot. I think one of the main reasons it appealed to me was that the young characters in the book had to reach far beyond themselves when they were trapped underground. They did the things that were necessary to get back to the surface and then back to the area where their home was. And then, when they figured out their lives were changed forever, they reached beyond themselves some more. As a teenager, I often wondered if I could do that; do what was necessary to survive. And I find, coming back to this book, thirty plus years later, that I have the same questions. Could I do what was necessary to survive? To protect my own children? I believe I could, and I would only hope that I would be willing to protect the people around me. I know Ms. Norton is gone now, but I thank her for such a thought-provoking book and for the influence she had on the world of science fiction and fantasy.